“Well, Betty I promise,” papa Karl said hurriedly, and he kept his word. So years after, when papa Karl’s purse was a good deal fuller, and a piano did make its appearance, it was welcomed solemnly, as something long and rapturously expected.
The custom of playing a joke upon one’s neighbor upon the First of April is of very ancient origin, dating so far back in the past that we are unable to tell just when or with what nation it had its birth.
There was a time, very many years ago, when the year began on the twenty-fifth of March. Then, as now, New Years’ was a great feast of the Church; and as the First of April was what was termed the octave—that is, the eighth day after the commencement of the feast—it has been thought that the feast which terminated upon that day closed in April-fooling. In support of this theory we find that the Catholic Church, at one time in its early history, observed an annual feast called “The Feast of the Ass.” The day upon which this feast was held answers to our sixth of January, which now is called “Twelfth-Day.” The day was devoted to merry-making, masquerading, jesting, and to fun in general.
Among the Hindoos there is a feast which is still observed, called the “Huli,” which, continuing several days, terminates on the thirty-first of March. One of the distinctive features of this feast is, that every one endeavors to send his neighbor upon some errand to some imaginary person, or to persons whom he knows are not at home; and then all enjoy a good laugh at the disappointment of the messenger. The observance of this custom by this peculiar people seems to indicate that it had a very early origin among mankind. In fact, it is not impossible that the manner in which the day is observed by us may have been suggested by some pagan custom. But whatever or whenever its origin may have been, we find it so widely prevalent over the earth, and with so very near a coincidence of day, as to be proof of its great antiquity.
The observance of April Fools’ Day is a very popular one in France, and we find traces of it there at a much earlier period than we do in England. It is related that Francis, Duke of Lorraine, and his wife, having been confined at Nantes as prisoners, successfully made their escape on the First of April. Taking advantage of this day, when they knew the guards would be upon the lookout lest some joke should be played upon them, they disguised themselves as peasants, the Duke carrying a hod upon his shoulder, and his wife bearing a basket of rubbish upon her back. Thus disguised, they passed through the gates of the city at an early hour of the day. There was one person, however, who guessed their secret. This was a woman who was an enemy of the Duke and his wife, and she at once resolved that they should not thus